And it seems another anthem controversy was stirred up again over the weekend.
Fergie (also known as Stacy Ann Ferguson or Fergie Duhamel) performed the anthem in the pre-game festivities leading up to Sunday's NBA All-Star Game.
Needless to say, her performance was memorable. Check out the video from the performance right here.
Most lashed out in humor, comparing her performance of the anthem to that of the sound of a wailing cat.
Some compared her performance to other "notable" interpretations of the song, including Roseanne Barr's performance at a San Diego Padres game in 1990.
It seems the anthem can only be performed one way, and that is one which is deemed acceptable to those people not actually in charge of anything which goes into the decisions behind who should perform it or not.
The fact we're still talking about the performance some 2 days afterwards says a lot about the reaction, but it also says more about the idea that we're lulled into this notion that unless things are always the same, always anti-septic, always within the parameters of someone else's view of acceptable behavior, we're never going to come to terms with the idea that the anthem is much about name recognition and entertainment as it is about tradition.
If not, why do we react when (insert name of celebrity) gets chosen to do the anthem at some big, nationally televised sporting event? Why do we react when that same performance gets feedback, positive or negative?
For the record, Fergie apologized. Though for the life of me, I don't know why she felt she had to.
"I’ve always been honored and proud to perform the national anthem and last night I wanted to try something special for the NBA,” she tells TMZ. “I’m a risk taker artistically, but clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone. I love this country and honestly tried my best.”
Say what you will about the performance, but the NBA and those in charge of the decision to have her sing the anthem, scored a monumental home run.
For whatever you thought of her performance, it trended beautifully on social media, making the All-Star Game and the hype surrounding it a monumental hit the league, as well as its sponsors and corporate partners.
The idea of what's considered an "acceptable" version of the anthem and what's deemed inappropriate is always going to cause a chain reaction. But instead of blaming the performer, be it Fergie, Roseanne Barr, or (my personal favorite, multiple Olympic Gold Medalist Carl Lewis), maybe some blame should be pointed at those who made the decision to put someone out on that stage merely for entertainment purposes or for name recognition.
All-Star Game was .... somewhat watchable
Maybe it was the medication I was on late Sunday evening, but I did myself tuned in for much of the second half of Sunday night's All-Star Game.
In fact, maybe it was the god-awful halftime show I forced myself to sit through that inspired me to see how much worse it could possibly get.
I'll admit it, I was mildly entertained by the second half of the game.
There was drama, there were spectacular displays of athleticism, and most important for me, there was some semblance of defense.
Does that make the All-Star Game a success? Perhaps. To some, but I'd argue that just because this Sunday night's nationally televised train wreck was only marginally better than other nationally televised ones, doesn't make it a success.
It just means the expectations going into it were so lousy -- the bar was set so low -- that it couldn't help itself but to be a better look for all involved.
The "shut up and dribble" controversy
For the record, I am not a chef. But I know what a good steak is supposed to taste like.
I'm also not a certified auto mechanic. But I know when I see a car with flattened tires, it's probably time to replace them.
I am, however, a journalist. And the business of journalism took another hit this weekend when talk show host and political commentator Laura Ingraham decided to attack LeBron James for his verbal jabs at POTUS.
Seems last week, James spoke about the divisions he perceives in some aspects of American culture. Seems James has an opinion about these matters. He was asked to deliver his thoughts on this topic and he did so.
James, for the record, is not a social activist. He is not a political commentator. But he knows what he sees in society and he is equally as qualified to speak on those things as the person eating a steak or the person with the flattened tires.
The fact that Ingraham's reaction to James' words has sparked some kind of racially charged debate is preposterous. Her reply would have been just as inappropriate were they made in response to a white man who'd spoken out against Trump.
And herein lies the problem. Because perception is a very important thing here.
The photos above show singer Ted Nugent appearing on Fox News. Nugent, a wildly outspoken advocate of POTUS has appeared on multiple shows on the network and is perhaps best known for a comment he made in a 2005 New York Times interview about the use of nuclear weapons, "I'll show you some security and I'll show you some peace: Nagasaki and Hiroshima. You f**k with us and we'll f**king melt you."
Nugent has also made more than his share of deragotary remarks about former President Obama and Hillary Clinton, some of those comments far more encased in intolerance than anything said by James in his most recent statements.
Also pictured here is former MLB star Curt Schilling, also known for his politically inflammatory comments.
If we're going to paint a stroke of the idea that athletes should "shut up and dribble" as Ingraham said last weekend on Fox News Network, then why are they actively pursuing these people?
Simple. Those two individuals fit the narrative which Fox is attempting to exploit.
Both Nugent and Schilling are as equally qualified to comment on matters of great social ramifications as James is. Just because one slings a guitar and one threw pitches for a living doesn't mean they're not entitled to an opinion.
But Ingraham wants to separate those opinions from the ones that don't play into the network's narrative.
Ingraham is a talk show host, much like other Fox stalwarts like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson as well as CNN's Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper.
While I have no doubt about each individuals credentials to speak on any number of topics, all of these comments should come with a warning label, a disclaimer if you will, that some of the things you're going to hear are based on little more than shocking innuendo and loosely obtained and little more than hard, ascertainable facts.
Ingraham sparked a debate that's raged for some time about whether athletes should be able to use their platform to speak about issues of great social awareness. And much like I'm sure Muhammad Ali was told to "shut up and box", or Jackie Robinson was told to "shut up and hit home runs", that spark is sure to start a fire.
Good. A little spark starts a fire. A fire can be used for any number of productive means.